Friday, February 23, 2018

Tobago's chance to go global

I am very incensed as I write this letter. Why incensed?

I have just finished speaking to a friend from Tobago about the talks between the THA and Ministers of Government concerning the island's declining tourism industry and the need for immediate action.

In March of 2011 members of my group presented the Government with a golden opportunity to promote Tobago on a global scale.

We submitted for consideration, a document that we had been working on with the Miss World organisation since 2009. The International Chairperson of the Miss World Organisation, Julia Morley, even flew into Tobago with the then reigning Miss World and first runner-up and a team of technical people to assess Tobago's readiness to host an event of that magnitude.

Everyone was impressed by the island its warmth and charm and by the infrastructure, particularly the Hotel Magdalene and the Cultural Centre at Shaw Park. It was hoped at the time that in celebration of our 50th anniversary of Independence, 2012 would have been the year to do it. This year's competition will be held in Inner Mongolia, China.

Almost one year later, that document has gone unacknowledged. The interest is still there to have Tobago as the first Caribbean island to host the Miss World pageant.

The second thing that upsets me is an article concerning Minister Bhoendradatt Tewarie and statements made about Machel Montano and the need to promote him on a global scale.

Last year, ahead of the Miss World finals in London in November, I approached (via letter) a Government Minister about the possibility of having one of our top soca stars perform at the event in front of a worldwide audience of two billion people in London.

The Minister in question responded saying that this was not something his Ministry was prepared to consider. No dialogue, no personal communication just a dismissal letter.

I was truly hurt because of my deep love for my country and my desire to see us progress beyond Third World status.

What hurt even more is the fact that the Prime Minister and her entourage were in London at the time of the competition, returning from an overseas trip to Australia and I even invited them to attend the dress rehearsal for the final. Admittedly I was a bit late but I would have moved heaven and earth to make it happen had they showed any interest.

Perhaps because I have no letters after, in front of or in the middle of my name, nobody is prepared to take me seriously. Perhaps it is because I am not highly placed or favoured.

I have also suggested that tourism officials look at the possibility of having the producers of the hit television show Survivor film a season in Trinidad (possibly on Little Tobago island). I called the production company in Los Angeles and left a voice mail suggesting it to Mark Burnett, one of the most influential executives in the world of television.

I am sure I will hear from him because he seems to be a man willing to take risks; but what the Government and its Ministers do with this opening is entirely up to them at this point. I can only hope, bearing in mind that Survivor is seen weekly by millions in the US and millions more around the world, that this is something officials are at least willing to consider.

I used to think that being passionate and loving one's country meant something. Sadly it seems, I have been labouring these long years under a false assumption. I continue to support my Government because I was taught in school to honour my leaders, my elders and those in authority but with all due respect, Government of the people, by the people and for the people, wake up and listen to the voice of the people. You never know where the next good idea is going to come from and Lord knows we need some good ideas right now!

Daniel Seebaran

San Juan